Macy's Inspires Kids to Create Theatre With Yes, Virginia Musical Around the Country

By Robert Simonson
14 Sep 2012

Costume design suggestion for the character of "Miriam, The Librarian," from the yesvirginiamusical.com website.
Costume design suggestion for the character of "Miriam, The Librarian," from the yesvirginiamusical.com website.

Macy's is reaching out to school theatre programs across the country to provide seed money and support for productions of a new musical based on the famous 1897 newspaper column popularly headlined as "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus."

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For decades, Americans have turned to Macy's during the holiday season for a dependable dose of Christmas cheer, either by shopping amidst the yuletide decorations at the landmark Herald Square department store or by soaking in the pageant and spectacle of the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

This year, however, Macy's will not concentrate its festive efforts solely at the corner 34th and Broadway. It will be exporting cheer across the nation.



The retail giant has engaged its creative team to conjure a stage musical called Yes, Virginia The Musical, based, in part, on the 2009, Macy's-produced animated television special "Yes, Virginia." Both the stage show and TV special were inspired by the famous 1897 New York Sun editorial which answered a letter written by 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon, who wrote to the newspaper asking if there is a Santa Claus.

As Christmas is the season of giving, the new show is being provided free of royalties to schools nationwide. The application period for interested schools ended on Sept. 13. More than 50 institutions applied. Productions will be mounted this December in every time zone, from Hawaii to Utah to Kentucky to Florida.

Macy's is helping the schools stage the hour-long, 12-song show in several ways. It will offer a $1,000 grant to support each production to help defray scenic and costuming expenses. Also, beginning in late September, participants will be able to access a digital toolkit that will include a full, interactive script; piano and vocal scores; downloadable orchestral and vocal performance tracks; and character summaries.

Unlike most musicals, Yes, Virginia, which has music by Wesley Whatley and book and lyrics by William Schermerhorn, came together quickly. The team wrote the show in the early months of this year, and workshopped it at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center last summer. "It's been a whirlwind," said Schermerhorn.

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